D2G’s ‘Short Summers Long Winters’ wraps up the season

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I’ve never been afraid to admit that I rock with certain artists much more than others, on both a local and national level. This sentiment stretches across genres, from hip-h0p to electronica to anything that may or may not fall under a particular music category. Obviously, content and ability to execute throughout a song and project are two of the bigger factors, but every once in a while, you get a chance to learn more intimately about someone’s craft and their dedication to it, which in turn makes you a bigger fan of the artist. For example, D2G.

The Chicago hip-hop artist’s gritty, yet skilled lyricism and delivery were introduced to me on he and fellow Chicago hip-hop artist Vic Spencer’s Hard Bars, a collaborative effort produced by Chicago producer, DC. Solid throughout, D2G more than held his own with the established veteran, Spencer, and essentially created a lane for his personal style and approach. After the releases of solo projects, 2011’s The Blood Diamond Tape and 2012’s July 9th: A Cancer Story, D2G is back with a new flag to plant in Chicago’s hip-hop landscape: Short Summers Long Winters, a strong 12-track effort featuring Ashley LaSchelle, AM, C. Rich, and JDP, with production by D.C., Ray White, Reg Young, and more.

Without inquiring, I can tell you the title of this album is related to Chicago’s calendar year that is essentially a short summer, followed by long winter. I am not yet far enough removed from the Go to know that the summers seem to come and go before you can enjoy them and the winters never want to leave.

Short Summers Long Winters begins with “A Call To Summer,” an interlude/intro featuring LaRoyce Hawkins and Katrina Valene. With Kool and the Gang’s “Summer Madness” playing softly in the background, Hawkins spits about the real turn of seasons and Valene provides gentle vocals to close it out. This is one of two songs co-produced by D.C. and D2G. “Long Days” has a very smooth sound, and A.P. Remedy’s voice and flow provide a nice contrast to D2G’s raspier, deeper tone. The horns that begin “90’s Flow” are very reminiscent of something on a Ghostface track, and Reg Young’s production gives the track more of a 70’s feel, which is basically what Ghostface music is: Gully ass 90’s flow over 70’s-sounding production. JDP provides the assist. D2G calls an isolation play for himself on “The Quest,” a song in which he once again sets out to distinguish himself from others in his field.

D2G and D.C. team up again to produce “Hydroplanin’,” featuring Ashley LaSchelle and Isaiah Jones, who both give the song a backyard BBQ feel. If this production is any indication of D2G’s ability to beatsmith, I suggest he look into featuring more of his own sound on his next project, as “Hydroplanin'” has one of my favorite beats on SSLW. Things slow down quite considerably on “Fall Into,” featuring Mon Cheri Soul. Soul is crisp and sultry, even as she sings “short sets to jump suits.” D2G does not appear, but it does not take away at all from the quality of the track. Also, props for the Roy Ayers snippet at the end.

In my opinion, there is nothing better than summer in Chicago. Period. Nada. Zilch. This is obviously a short-sighted opinion as I’ve only had the privilege to enjoy a full summer in four cities, but my opinion will stand until the end of my time on this planet. D2G’s “Chi-City Summer” tells of the beauty and horror of the warmest season of the year in Chicago. Unsurprisingly, he tells it accurately, from the beginning tales of beautiful weather and enjoyment to the end, when D2G reminds us, “You can’t stop the violence and drill at the same damn time…” D.C.’s reggae tinge basically never fails, and this is certainly the case on “I Spy.” Breezy City teams up with D2G on “I Got It,” another Reg Young-produced track with a bouncier feel. “I Got It” didn’t miss the mark, but felt a little light in contrast to other D2G work. Reg Young produces the next track, “You Got It,” a love ode of sorts featuring the vocals of C. Rich. In my opinion, it’s extremely difficult for the majority of rap and hip-hop artists to switch from a more aggressive, male-driven sound to one that is conducive to a loving, sensual, sensitive environment. Fortunately, D2G didn’t attempt to sing and didn’t break out the auto-tune, although this could have been the one time that he ventured outside of his norm to try a different approach.

“Reflections,” featuring Isaiah Jones with production from The Flying Shoe, is an absolutely beautiful song, as D2G goes the introspective route while Jones questions, “When will it get better?” D2G is great at expressing disappointment with the state of the music industry and hip-hop in particular, as well as the plight of his neighbors in Chicago, but when he takes the time to diligently reflect (no pun intended), I believe that’s when he’s at his best. There is a sax playing at the beginning of “Winter’s Brew” that should probably just play all winter long in Chicago as people walk the streets, whether on Michigan Avenue with bags in hand, or on the south side braving the elements just to make it home after a long day of work. Spazzbot.exe and D2G end SSLW on a great note, switching from serene production on this track to one with an aggressive drum machine over piano keys…all while D2G takes us home lyrically. Abstrak Mind makes an appearance on the bonus track, “Never Left,” a definite gift that doesn’t disappoint.

Short Summers Long Winters is another strong effort from D2G, an artist who understands that while he is very talented, there is always room for improvement. You can name your price and buy SSLW (always my favorite option) on D2G’s Bandcamp page, something that should be on the agenda of everyone looking to support a dope, Chicago hip-hop artist still on the rise.

 

“24K Visuals (Pts. 1 & 2),” Vic Spencer

The last time GoILLian rapping bastard Vic Spencer was here, I reviewed his latest EP, Vision Pipes, produced by TDE beatsmith, Rocket. A fan of that release, I noted at the end of my post that I felt Spencer was picking up steam as he began to further branch out in terms of his musical ventures. Since, Spencer has announced an upcoming EP with fellow GoILLian rapper, MC Tree, and, while mixing the anticipated Women’s Bathroom project, dropped this piece of dopeness. Of course, there was also this, this, and of course, hard bars as a featured artist on this.

While I am disappointed to have recently learned that Spencer and Tree’s VicTree collaboration will be delayed, I can certainly take a bit of solace in Spencer’s latest journey, “24K Visuals,” split into two parts. Part one was released October 1 and part 2, this past Thursday. Even though picking a favorite between the two isn’t quite akin to what poor Meryl Streep had to do in Sophie’s Choice, it’s still not easy to choose. If I were forced to, however, I’d side with part one, as it takes listeners back to vintage-Spencer-over-fucking-awesome-ass-loops, constructed by Chicagoan producer and jack-of-all-trades, DC. Part two is obviously no slouch, and Vic’s “More cardigans than Mr. Rogers” line can be put into the “Vic quotables” category. It’s generally somewhat difficult to tell what will be next for an artist like Spencer, but it’s safe to say something new will be coming soon, and directly. Enjoy the goods below.

“I Spy,” D2G; JLR drops more lifestyle rap on a Saturday night

 

Without reservation, I believe D2G is one of the dopest lyricists in the city of Chicago and I’m sure you could expand that claim to include the entire Midwest. I’ve written before on this blog how I am a fan of not only his work, but his ethic and approach. Seemingly hungry on every track, D2G almost attacks his listeners, even when a track doesn’t sound entirely cohesive or a bar feels out of place.

“I Spy,” produced by GoILLian beatsmith DC, will be the first single from D2G’s upcoming album, Short Summers, Long Winters. There’s a reggae tinge to the song (sort of a DC trademark, if you’re unaware) and the bassline is hard, but smooth and not overpowering. A release date for the album is unknown at the moment, but you can be assured that it won’t disappoint, as D2G understands that as he continues to churn out good music, fans, old and new, appreciate his efforts. Enjoy.

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 I’ve long been a fan of New Orleans rapper Curren$y aka “Spitta Andretti,” since his days as a member of Lil Wayne’s “Sqad Up” collective. Although he didn’t have the large profile he currently has, I still made sure to catch every one of his verses, even on the songs that I knew were straight and complete trash. Since, Curren$y has departed the group and left Weezy’s rap clutches, beginning a solo career and basically, perfecting the “Lifestyle Rap” genre. He’s even put together a roster of sorts of like-minded artists and branded “Jet Life” as a way of, well, life.

This past Saturday, the team dropped World Wide Hustlers, a project that does a bit more than past releases to showcase Jet Life members besides front-liners Curren$y and Young Roddy. Unfortunately, my rap booski Mary Gold does not make an appearance on this release, but we do get some spirited bars from Jet Lifers T.Y., Fiend, and LE$. Mr. Marcelo and Freddie Gibbs guest star on ‘WWH,’ as well. With a chill sound, this tape does not disappoint, although I would have preferred a song or track from Mary Gold, arguably the brightest star in the camp.

Life.

Quickly now: “Infectious (Telling Folk),” Vic Spencer ft. D. Brash and Brian Fresco (Prod. by DC) #GoILL

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Vic Spencer is no stranger to MKLH. One of my favorite Chicago rap artists, Spencer basically churns out music at such a pace that would make a simple man or woman’s head spin. Because of work and quite frankly, a lack of motivation, I haven’t posted as often over the last few months as I possibly could have. No more. Vic Spencer dropped a goody in my email inbox today, and you bet your ass that the new is heat. “Infectious (Telling Folk)” is led off by Spencer, with D. Brash in the 2-hole and Brian Fresco coming on strong to finish the track off. DC is on production duty, and the beat sounds like a very eerie serenade (love that “tellin’ folk” vocal in the background), navigated rather meticulously by the three aforementioned artists. “You just mad because you not what blogs writin’ about…”

For 2014: D2G

D2G-July-9th-A-Caner-StoryWhen it comes to hip-hop in Chicago, contrary to “popular” belief, there is a rather extensive history of successful artists. Perhaps most of them did not reach a national level in terms of popularity, but on a local level, they provided a soundtrack to many of our lives. I won’t regale you with tales of rapping along with Crucial Conflict, Da Brat or Do or Die, but I will tell you that in my somewhat biased opinion, Chicago hip-hop is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. A part of this new movement is artist/songwriter/hungry MC, D2G.

I first heard D2G on the DC-produced Hard Bars, a 2011 collaborative effort with fellow Chicago hip-hop artist, Vic Spencer. While I knew what to expect from Spencer and to an extent, DC, it was D2G’s performance that not only caught me off guard, but forced me to look at Chicago’s rap and hip-hop scene in an almost completely different way. Far too often rife with gang references and odes to violent acts, Chicago’s rap and hip-hop landscape can appear very watered down to some. And, not to dismiss trap artists like Lil’ Durk, Chief Keef and King Louie, but I always knew that there were artists who more accurately represented the struggle and desire to overcome it, in a less materialistic, self-centered way. Enter, D2G.

In December of 2011, D2G released The Blood Diamond Tape. Sixteen tracks long with features from Spencer, Lili K, Jay Rashard, A.M. and others, it was a very solid project, from start to finish. Evident was the fact that not only could D2G rap, but he actually gave a shit about his craft. Similar to Lil’ Wayne on Tha Carter, you could hear the hunger in D2G’s verses. You simply cannot listen to “Mom’s Prayin'” and tell me that D2G is half-assing it on the track. Period.

After a 2012 that seemingly came and went for just about everyone, whether in the music industry or not, D2G gifted us on his birthday, July 9, 2013, with July 9th: A Cancer Story. Holy shit, what a mixtape. What. A. Mixtape. I reviewed it earlier on this site, and if I were forced to review it again today, my opinion of it would probably be even more glowing and positive.

I listen to an awful lot of hip-hop and it’s not often that I can sit down and listen to a project in its entirety without thinking that the artist is bullshitting me, at some point. It happens; the need to appeal to your fans who are borderline hip-hop purists and those who simply want to hear good music without the requirement of it actually speaking to them in any way, shape or form. Maybe it’s harsh to call addressing the needs of one’s entire fanbase “bullshitting,” but it is frustrating to listen to such code-switching. D2G’s struggles are not mine, and mine are not his. However, to hear the raw effort on J9: ACS made me a believer in D2G. I have faith that D2G can establish himself as one of the premier hip-hop artists in Chicago, for years to come.

I’ve had the opportunity to do a little “Q & A” with D2G, and his answers didn’t seem contrived. They appeared to be thought out, in order to provide me with the insight that many artists seem to not think is very important in how they are viewed not only as artists, but as people. Regardless of what anyone says, we all judge. Most of us do so unfairly, but nevertheless, we all judge. And while I’d love to write that we as fans can easily separate the artist from the person, more times than not, it is incredibly difficult to do so.

In conclusion, I appreciate the music that D2G puts out, and the effort that goes into it. He certainly isn’t the only rap or hip-hop artist in Chicago who gives a damn about their product, but he’s one I rock with the most, arguably. With the momentum he built in 2013, especially after J9: ACS, it wouldn’t be surprising that he uses that to propel himself to another level in 2014. It’s a “GoILL” movement, y’all.

Review: ‘July 9th: A Cancer Story,’ D2G

, It’s been a while since I’ve written a review, much less one for the work of Chicago hip-hop artist D2G. Not only do I enjoy the work that he releases, he seems to possess a certain work ethic that isn’t a part of the repertoire of many other artists, from my observations. Obviously, I await the release of music albums of all genres, all year. D2G’s July 9th: A Cancer Story was no different.

I hate pointless intros. I hate them with a fiery passion. I’m not sure who told music artists–especially rappers–that intros are necessary, but if that person exists, they misled them. Most times, it’s audio snippets or some crazed man screaming obscenities or the artist telling you how big of a chip is on their shoulder. Luckily, D2G’s “A Cancer Intro” gets right into the album, with him laying out what is part-mission statement/part-state of the rap union address. The reggae-tinged “I.R.A.N.” was produced by DC, and I’ve been playing it since I posted it on this page several weeks ago. “I Am Him” continues the swift pace, as D2G exclaims that he is “the shit.” Kudos to RelElite for the production.

Credit Doc Da Mindbenda with the production assist on “Drive Down The LS,” featuring Chicago vocalist Ben Official. This isn’t the typical D2G track, but I think the collab and sound worked very well. Continuing on with somewhat of an appeal to the ladies is “Agreement.” Finy the Genius provides vocal support and Maserati Myers’ production combines some elements of both modern and 90’s R&B. To validate my theory that when rap and hip-hop artist lean towards women at a certain point on an album or mixtape, they do it in threes, we get “The Search.” I actually really liked DC’s production on this track, but felt that a female voice was needed. Perhaps a female singer who also described her search as well would’ve complemented D2G’s tales a bit better.

Vic Spencer and Brian Fresco join the fray on “Not Sober,” and once again, DC is on production duty. Clearly, the subject matter of a song with this title will almost always be fairly light, but I still enjoyed the debauchery-filled lyrics of this one. Fresco’s verse got nastier as it went along, which is sometimes what happens when you’re last to bat.

“YNS” sounded a little too much like “The Search,” in terms of its overall tone, except the latter was smoother. If I read these lyrics before hearing the song, I would have expected something a bit grungier. Fortunately, D2g raps along with a beat better than most, so even on tracks that don’t seem to fit his style, he can “save” them by being fairly technically sound. One of my favorite performances on J9:ACS was by Chicago rapper Angel Davenport…and she didn’t even rap. However, her singing on the hook of “Hangover Syndrome” was extremely rhythmic along with B4 La$ers’ production, even though she has a somewhat unconventional sound. The emotional appeal on “If U Hear Me” is very strong, which is exactly what I expect from an artist of D2G’s caliber.

Producer R.A.D. and D2G rebound from “YNS” with the beautiful-sounding “Come On.” Chicago rapper Abstrak Mind contributes a very good verse, as he and D2G convey thoughts of how difficult it can be to just to make it to the finish line. “;” is officially my shit, and I think Vic Spencer should offer his services on hooks, if he can duplicate his effort from the track. O’Bonjour produced “;” and admittedly, the beat grew on me. “Hood Tales” were just that, but in typical D2G fashion, he took it a step further. With all due respect to the other vocalists on J9:ACS, they simply couldn’t match Alex Brittany on “Reoccurring Nightmares.” It’s her voice that I hoped to hear with each passing second, even though D2G’s lyrical effort was one of his best on the album. I’d argue that this was the best collaboration on the entire project.

J9:ACS ends with “A Cancer Outro,” and it’s appropriate that one of the first words D2G utters is “reflect,” since that is what he seems to do often, and very well. Every once in a while, I believe people should take self-inventory and reflect on things in the past that have contributed to their present and possibly, their future. Unfortunately, I’m unsure of the female vocalist in the background.

Knowing what went into this project is what makes it even better, in my opinion. To hear that an artist has been working on an album for nearly a decade is remarkable, and warrants much praise. Who knows if D2G is gaining traction in the Chicago hip-hop landscape. I, personally, don’t care. Politics dictate the flow of music. I think all any of us should hope for is that D2G continues to churn out good, meaningful music.

“I.R.A.N.,” D2G (Prod. by DC)

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Chicago rap artist D2G emailed me the first single from his upcoming album, July 9th: A Cancer Story, and I felt inclined to share it with you. “I.R.A.N.” (Ign’ant Rappin’ Ass Nigga) was produced by DC, and you can certainly tell just by the sound of this track. Despite the title of this song, I can assure you that D2G is anything but “ign’ant.” One thing I enjoy about D2G’s flow is that he maintains a reasonable level of aggressiveness without coming off as a diminutive persona with something to prove, but without the means and ability to do so. With each release, more and more people are made aware of just how dope D2G is, and I don’t see him slowing down any time soon.

Download: “I.R.A.N.,” D2G (Prod. by DC)